THE FOURTH REGIMENT
Compiled in the office of the Military Service Institution.
In the annual report of the Secretary of War (the Hon. Jefferson Davis'), for the year 1855, it was stated that "The four additional regiments authorized by the act of March 3, 1855, have been recruited and organized. Seven companies of the First Cavalry have recently returned from an expedition into the Sioux country and the regiment will winter at Fort Leavenworth, where it will be in position for ulterior operations in the spring."
When the two regiments of cavalry were authorized to be formed in 1855 it was with the understanding that all the field-officers and one-half of the company officers should betaken from the army, while the other half of the company officers should be taken from civil life.
The military fitness of those selected for the First (now Fourth) Cavalry is indicated by the high commands to which many of them rose, as follows:
"In August, 1855, the regiment which had been organized at Jefferson Barracks was ordered to Fort Leavenworth. About the middle of September it was engaged in an Indian expedition in which no fighting occurred, but which kept the troops in the field until the fourth of November.
*The writer is under obligations to Col. E. B. Beaumont, U. S A., (retired) for valuable information.
During the following year the First Cavalry was engaged in the work of keeping the peace between the political factions in Kansas who were struggling with the delicate question of slavery.
The first important Indian affair in which the new regiment participated occurred on the North fork of the Solomon River, within the limits of what is now Norton County, Kansas. From a letter* written by one of its officers who was there wounded—afterward the famous cavalryman Major General J. E. B. Stuart—we quote as follows:
From the fall of 1857 until the summer of 1860 six companies of the First Cavalry were stationed at Fort Riley under the command of Major John Sedgwick.
In 1861 the regiment, like all others of the army, changed to a certain extent the personnel of its officers. Some of its most experienced soldiers resigned but their places were taken by young and ardent supporters of the Union cause who, under the eyes of those officers who remained in the service of the Government, rapidly developed into efficient subalterns.
The operations of the regiment during the first year of the war were desultory in their character. On the 18th of March Lt. Col. Emory commanding was ordered to proceed to Fort Washita and establish his head-
*Campaigns of Stuart's Cavalry, H. B. McClellan, A. M., New York, 1885.
quarters. April 17 he was directed to proceed "with all the troops in the Indian country west of Arkansas to Fort Leavenworth" and reached there May 31. About the same time Captain Sturgis evacuated Fort Smith and marched to Washita.
Two companies were ordered (May 29) from Fort Wise to Fort Kearney to hold in check the Indians in that section and Lt. Col. Sedgwick was sent to Leavenworth. On the 22 June, Gen. McClellan, operating in West Virginia, applied for that part of the regiment stationed at Fort Leavenworth.
Capt. Colburn with Companies A and E participated in the battle of Bull Run, and was favorably mentioned by the division commander, Col. Heintzleman. Companies B, C, D and L were at the same time serving under Major Sturgis in Missouri. On the 27th of July a skirmish took place near Forsyth, Mo., in which Capt. Stanley, 1st Cavalry, with his troop, had the advance and lost two men wounded and four horses killed (including his own, shot under him). The same officer was conspicuous in an affair at Dug Springs, Mo., Aug. 2 when, as part of a detachment of troops under Gen. Lyon, his squadron made several charges cutting the enemy's line and completing his discomfiture. Capt. Stanley's loss was four killed and six wounded out of a total engaged of forty-two: Sergeants Coates and Sullivan were mentioned for gallantry.
In the annual report of the Secretary of War (Dec. 4, 1854), occurred this paragraph:
It is worth noting that this recommendation of the subsequent President of the Southern Confederacy was not acted upon until in the early part of President Lincoln's administration when (Aug. 3, 1861), an order was issued renumbering the mounted force and naming the subject of this sketch the Fourth Cavalry.
At the historic affair of Springfield, Mo., known as Wilson's Creek (Aug. 10), where the lamented Lyon fell, the regiment was represented by Captain Carr's company and one company under Lieut. Canfield, 2d Drags.*—serving in different brigades. In the official reports Lieut. Canfield is honorably mentioned; the casualties consisted of one wounded and three missing in D, and four missing in I. The small regular cavalry force engaged shared in whatever of credit could be obtained from "the mixture of glory, disgrace and disaster," reported by Major Schofield of Gen. Lyon's Staff as a prominent feature of this engagement.
On the 19th Dec., 1861, a spirited skirmish, in which B, C, D, (being part of an expedition under Gen. Pope to cut Price's communications) behaved very gallantly, occurred on the Blackwater River, Mo. Gen. Pope reported that in attempting to carry a bridge held by a strong force of the enemy:
* Afterward Captain 2d Cav. Killed at Beverly Ford, Va., June 9, 1863.
When McClellan in April, 1862, began his Peninsular Campaign, two companies (A and E) of the Fourth Cavalry (4 officers and 104. men) under Captain McIntyre constituted his personal escort; the remainder of the regiment being on duty in the West. On the 27th August, Gen. McClellan reported that he had loaned his "personal escort (a squadron 4th Cav.) to Burnside to scout down the Rappahannock." In October, 1862, this squadron joined the regimental headquarters in Tennessee.
In Nov. 1862, Cos. F and H were stationed at Fort Laramie, Neb.
At Pittsburg Landing (Shiloh) Tenn., April 6, 1862, Company I was present, losing one enlisted man and five horses killed and five men wounded; this company (together with B, C, D, G, K) was also present at Corinth, Miss., 9-14 May; a detachment under Lieut. Gordon took part in an affair near Farmington, Miss.; no casualties.
In the organization of the Army of the Mississippi, April 30, 1862, Capt. E. W. Crittenden commanded a part of the regiment, "unattached."
During the Stone River campaign (1862-63) the regiment commanded by Capt. Elmer Otis served under Gen. Stanley who said in his report of the operations near Murfreesborough that "The Fourth U. S. Cavalry behaved very handsomely." The casualties comprised three enlisted men killed and Capt. Eli Long and nine men wounded; twelve men missing. Capt. Otis in his official report† states that "from prisoners taken (of whom there were over one hundred) by the regiment I have learned that the 4th U. S. Cavalry charged at this time an entire brigade of cavalry and routed them to such an extent that they disappeared from the field altogether." Other details are given as follows:
*See Lieut. Amory's Report, War
Records VIII, 40.
† War Records XX., part I, 648
‡ Afterward Lieut. 2d U. S. Cavalry, killed at Front Royal, Va., in 1864.
At the battle of Franklin, April 10, 1863, the regiment under Capt. McIntyre greatly distinguished itself, charging and capturing a battery of six guns and some three hundred prisoners. A large force of the enemy subsequently attacked our troops and after an hour's fight McIntyre was obliged to abandon the guns, having spiked them and broken up the carriages. Gen. Stanley in his report of the battle said: "From the circumstances the Fourth Cavalry did the most gallant service. Two gallant officers, old soldiers, were dangerously wounded—Lieuts. Healy and Simson, the former it is feared mortally." Capt. McIntyre gives a full account* of this fight for which there is unfortunately not space here.
In the latter part of October, 1864, the 4th Cavalry was relieved from duty with a brigade and ordered to Cavalry Corps Headquarters. The regiment was very much reduced in strength, numbering about 175 men. It marched to Nashville and took part in that battle on the 14th and 15th of December and in the pursuit of Hood. On the 24th of December a portion of the regiment, led by the brave Lieut. Joseph Hedges, charged into a battery of three guns driving them off the field and finally capturing them after a pursuit of a mile.
The Corps Commander (Gen. Wilson) says of this incident:†
*War Records XXIII, part 1, 231.
† "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War."
Gen. Wilson's staff headed by Col. E. B. Beaumont charged with the Fourth Cavalry in this affair.
It participated in the campaign of Selma and in the march to Macon. At Selma (April 2, 1865) it was again distinguished by a mounted charge on the enemy's earthworks. This was repulsed with loss, but a second charge, dismounted, resulted in carrying the works. "The enemy rallied behind a second line of works where they were charged by a small mounted battalion of the Fourth Cavalry. The charge was broken up by a railroad cut and some fences close to the works. The regiment lost many horses; a few men killed and some wounded. Lieut. Webster was shot in the arm and Lieut. O'Connell had his horse shot under him, and was supposed to be killed. This charge failed; but the same battalion dismounted and supported by the 17th Indiana and 3d Ohio and a section of the Chicago Board of Trade Battery charged again and the line was gallantly carried. As we approached the works we had the satisfaction of seeing the bulky form of O'Connell rise from behind his dead horse, where he had been lying to avoid the enemy's fire. He was bruised but unwounded."*
About the time of the capture of Selma, it lost a dashing young officer, Lieut. Elbridge G. Roys, who while in command of a party of scouts was surprised by Forrest's body guard and he and several men were killed and many were wounded.
After the capture of Macon, Georgia, the regiment remained there until late in November when it was ordered to Texas where ten companies were concentrated at San Antonio and two companies were sent to the Rio Grande. In the fall of 1866 the companies occupied the posts of Verde, Fredericksburg and Macon. In 1867 old Fort Chadbourne was reoccupied by four companies of the 4th Cavalry. In May, 1873, it was concentrated at Forts Clark and Duncan and under Ranald S. Mackenzie made a march into Old Mexico, surprising a Kickapoo village 40 miles in the interior, near Rey Molino. This affair was the result of an arrangement, with the tacit approval of the authorities on both sides of the Rio Grande, to permit troops in hot pursuit of Indian marauders to follow them across the line. The troops engaged consisted of A, B, C, E, I, M, and a detachment of Seminole scouts under Lieut. Bullitt. The Rio Grande was forded at night and the Kickapoo camp was surprised soon after daylight: the camp was burned and 200 horses and forty squaws and children were captured—the heads of families being absent on a raid.
In August, 1874, eight companies of the Fourth Cavalry, commanded by Captains McLaughlin, Beaumont, Gunther, Boehm, Wirt, Heyl, left Fort McKavett and proceeded via Fort Concho, Texas, the North Concho River, to a point on the First Fork of the Brazos close to the Staked Plains. Here a supply camp was established on September 2 and left under the command of Col. Thomas Anderson while the cavalry and an escort of the 8th Infantry for the wagon train scouted the heads of the Brazos, Pecos and Red rivers. On the night of the 26th of September hostile Indians attacked the camp of the 2d battalion under Capt. Beaumont and was driven off
without loss to the command, and on the following day an attempt to bring hem into action failed. Col. Mackenzie was present with the battalion, and directed operations.
On September 27 the command marched all night and at daybreak surprised several small camps of Ouajada Comanches in the Paladuro Cañon of the Red River, burning numerous teepees and capturing over 1600 head of horses and mules. About midnight during the march, a broad trail was struck which was followed until daylight, when it led into a steep cañon some six or seven hundred feet deep. It was necessary to dismount and lead the horses as it was impossible to ride. Half way down, a sleeping Indian was awakened by the noise of the command, and springing upon a pony gave a piercing yell of alarm which was echoed at the bottom of the narrow valley where the Indians could be seen rushing out of their lodges and trying to throw some of their effects on their ponies, but they were too late to save anything. The squaws and children rushed into the side ravines among the rocks and brushes while the companies led by Captains Beaumont and Boehm pushed rapidly up the cañon expecting to meet a heavy resistance every moment. The cañon was almost choked with horses and it was difficult to get ahead of them, but the two companies finally succeeded in forcing their way through the frightened herd and turned it back. Lieut. Dorst, who had command of the advance skirmishers, drove the Indians before him and kept the way clear for the two companies, and when ordered to return brought with him a hundred horses picked up in a side canon. Gen. Mackenzie ordered the command twice to halt, but Capt. Beaumont, being in advance, sent word back that it was injudicious to halt when the enemy were in full flight and as many horses would be lost. The second order to halt was received when the bulk of the horses had been secured. Capt. Boehm made his way through the brush and foot hills with remarkable rapidity and had his company well in hand. The horses were slowly driven down the cañon, when the foe commenced firing from the south side of the cañon, but after wounding a couple of horses and a trumpeter of Capt. Gunther's troop were silenced by twenty men of A troop led by Lieut. Dorst, who with great fatigue climbed the almost perpendicular .north face of the cañon and opened fire. The lodges were burned containing large supplies of dried buffalo meat, robes and kettles, and the horses and mules driven back up the trail of the plain. After a rest the whole command moved back to the wagon train where it arrived at midnight and, putting the animals into the corral formed by the wagons, took a well earned sleep. Next day some twelve hundred of the animals were shot as it was impossible to hold them together to drive two hundred miles of Fort Griffin, the nearest post. This band of Indians was on foot and rapidly travelled to Fort Sill, willing to sue for peace at any price. The command remained in the field until late in December, and during that period visited heretofore unknown districts of the Staked Plains, and upon one occasion surprised a camp of Indians, capturing a dozen squaws and children and about one hundred and sixty horses. The command proceeded to Fort Griffin, arriving there December 27, 1874, having been nine days in making a march of only one hundred miles. The wagons had to be pulled
out of the mud by dismounted men. The Regiment took posts in the Indian Territory in 1875.
On Nov. 25, 1876, an expedition under Gen. Mackenzie, comprising B D, E, F and M troops 4th Cavalry, while scouting on the Powder River came upon Dull Knife's band of Cheyennes. The commanding officer's report is as follows:
In March, 1880, E, K, L, M and D were at Fort Garland, Colorado, preparing for an expedition into the Uncompaghre Ute country. On May 19, 1880, the five companies under Maj. E. B. Beaumont left Garland and proceeded via Alamoso, Saquache for the Cochetopa Pass, and crossing the Rocky Mountains there arrived at Los Pinos Agency on the Uncompaghre River May 31. Gen. R. S. Mackenzie commanded the expedition which consisted of a battalion of the 19th Infantry and one of the 4th Cavalry. Commissioners were present negotiating with Ouray the Uncompaghre Ute Chief for the removal of his band from that country to a reservation on the Green River. While negotiations were in progress the 4th Cavalry scouted the Grand River and Grand Mesa country. In the fall the troops returned to their stations in Kansas. In May, 1881, Companies A, B, D, K and L returned to the Uncompaghre country and moved the Uncompaghre Utes to their new reservation. The Apaches having broken out in Arizona Gen. Mackenzie was ordered there with a portion of his regiment which was finally concentrated in posts in New Mexico with headquarters at Santa Fé. Gen. Geo. A. Forsyth, lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, took post at Fort Cummings from whence he scouted into Arizona and had a spirited fight in the Stein's Peak range, Lost Cañon.
In June, 1884, the 4th Cavalry was ordered to Arizona where the companies took post at Huachuca, Bowie, Lowell and McDowell. During '85 and '86 several detachments of the 4th Cavalry were in the field operating against the Chiricahua Apaches.
In May, 1885, a party of about fifty of the Chiricahua Indian prisoners escaped from the White Mountain Reserve in Arizona, headed by Geronimo and Natchez, and entered upon a career of murder and robbery unparalleled in the history of Indian raids. Gen. Miles organized a well-equipped force under Capt. H. W. Lawton, 4th Cavalry. This command with great energy
and persistence kept on the trail, overtook the band in the mountains, capturing nineteen horses and all the enemy's supplies and finally, in September, rounded up the hostiles and brought about their surrender. Gen. Miles reported that Capt. Lawton
Among others entrusted with important duty was Captain Wirt Davis, 4th Cavalry, who crossed into Mexico in July, making a forced march in pursuit of Geronimo. That officer together with Lieuts. Elliott, Walsh and Benson were highly praised in the annual report of the Department Commander.
The operations of the regiment during the year cover a vast territory. Capt. Hatfield's troop returning from a successful scout, while passing through a deep and narrow cañon, embarrassed with captured property, was attacked by the hostiles and a sharp fight ensued. "There were several cases of conspicuous bravery displayed in this fight; the action of Sergeant Samuel H. Craig was most heroic and very worthy of praise. First Sergeant Samuel Adams, and Citizen Packer George Bowman exposed their lives in attempting to rescue John H. Conradi of the troop, who lay seriously wounded on the ground, but still using his rifle to good effect. This act of bravery and heroism would have been richly rewarded had not this unfortunate soldier received a mortal wound as he was being borne from the field by his devoted comrades.* "
The service of the regiment during the next three years was uneventful. During the fall of 1889 a camp of instruction was established near Fort Grant, Arizona, where twelve troops of cavalry, four of infantry, and a detachment of the hospital corps were assembled under Col. Compton, and for a month were exercised in all field manoeuvres. On the night of Oct., 8 Mexican desperadoes fired upon a detachment of Troop I, while encamped at Mescal Springs, mortally wounding two enlisted men.
In May, 1890, the regiment was transferred from Arizona to the Departments of California and Columbia with headquarters at Fort Walla Walla, Washington. In Oct. 1891, Troop C changed station to Fort Bidwell, Cal. In Feb. 1892, Troops I and K were assigned to duty in the National Yosemite and Sequoia Parks respectively.
During the forty years of its official existence the Fourth Cavalry has had seven colonels—men of distinction in their profession: Edwin V. Sumner (3 March '55-16 March '61), who moulded the regiment after the old dragoon pattern and became one of the great generals of the Army of the Potomac; Robert E. Lee (16 March '61-25 April '61), afterward the famous Confederate chieftain; John Sedgwick (25 April '61-9 May '64), the able Union soldier who gave up his life at the head of his corps in the Wilderness; Lawrence
*Annual Report, 1886, Gen. Miles.
P. Graham (9 May '64-15 Dec. '70), one of the heroes of Resaca de la Palma; Ranald S. Mackenzie (15 Dec. '70-1 Nov. '82), the brilliant young cavalryman and scourge of the border Indians; William B. Royall (1 Nov. '82-10 Oct. '87), scarred veteran of two wars and innumerable conflicts with savages; and Charles E. Compton (19 Oct. 1887) the present head of the regiment—a fine type of the volunteer and regular service.
Behind these leaders have ridden, boot to boot, for thousands of miles over trackless deserts, through dangerous cañons, up the faces of frowning cliffs and across rivers broad and deep, dusty columns of fearless horsemen; many have left their bones bleaching on the burning sands of Texas, in the glare of an Arizona sun or resting in more or less "hospitable graves" in Kansas, Virginia, and Georgia.
The deeds of these brave American cavaliers deserve to be chronicled at greater length than is practicable here; in these peaceful days there is no nobler professionaltask to which one of its younger officers can devote himself than to fully record the achievements of the regiment to which he has the privilege and honor to belong.
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